After having been relatively disappointed with the first two episodes of Firefly, the show finally grabbed me with the episode "Bushwacked". Perhaps it's because I'm a fan of sci-fi thrillers like Alien and The X-Files, but I enjoyed this episode.
The Serenity encounters a derelict transport ship, and the crew becomes alarmed when they see a dead body come in contact with them. Book suggests that they check on the passengers. Mal agrees, but his intentions are less than noble, figuring that the ship may contain valuable supplies if it were indeed abandoned.
When Mal and company enter the ship, they discover a horrifying massacre and conclude that the passengers were attacked by Reavers, a cannibalistic, inhuman, and viciously brutal group of people who live at the very edge of the galaxy. The crew find a lone survivor and find out firsthand what happens to the few who survive a Reaver attack. Meanwhile, when an Alliance Commander boards Serenity searching for Simon and River, the siblings resort to some desperate measures to avoid being caught.
As I mentioned earlier, I liked this episode. It's not silly and light-hearted as the first two episodes. It's dark and disturbing, and full of suspense. It also piques the audience's curiosity regarding the mysterious Reavers. They were first introduced in the original pilot and at the time seemed like the sci-fi version of the boogeyman. But this episode brings concrete evidence to the audience of their existence. We don't know what they look like, but we now know what they're capable of. They seem to be a terrifying bunch — hell, even Jayne is scared of them. I look forward to more episodes with Reavers, but I hope we never get to see what they actually look like. Often times an unseen enemy or threat is far more frightening than one you can see.
Although I enjoyed this episode, overall I'm still bored with most of the characters. The only people I find interesting are Mal and Jayne. Mal seems to have the most depth as a character, while Jayne is just hilarious. I get a kick out of watching him. Simon and Inara show some promise of being more than two-dimensional characters. On the other hand if Zoe, Wash, and Kaylee disappeared I wouldn't even notice. So far, they have contributed little to the stories. River just gets on my nerves with her wannabe Rain Man routine. I know it's early in the series and the characters still need to be fleshed out a bit, but how can a viewer remain vested in a show if he or she doesn't care about the characters?
"Bushwacked" is the last episode on Disc 1. Let's see if future episodes continue to be as good as this one.